The Burns Harbor
Redevelopment Commission voted unanimously Monday to hire McGuireWoods LLP
for a fee not to exceed $15,000 to prepare specifications to advertise for a
offices in London and Brussels as well as 18 offices in the U.S., according
to its website.
RDC member Cliff
Fleming, who recommended the firm, said it presented three scenarios to do
the work ranging from $15,000 to $21,000. The lower cost requires less
interaction with the town.
Fleming said the
goal is to have someone recognized in the development industry prepare the
request for proposals so the RFP solicitation gets noticed. “It sends a
message to the development community we know what we’re doing, (that) we’re
not just a bunch of citizens trying to do this on our own.”
RDC member Gene
Weibl said the RFP will be a professional presentation instead of “something
drawn up with a Crayola.” Fleming said a draft of the RFP hopefully can be
ready for the June 26 RDC meeting.
The RFP will seek
proposals from new consultants who submit a multi-step scope of work to
assess what the town’s assets are to grow the community by
development/redevelopment. The end product of this study would enable Burns
Harbor to reach out to developers as a marketing effort explaining what
benefits the town has, said Fleming after the meeting.
RDC member Brad
Enslen said the town would be under no obligation to accept any of the
second consultant proposals.
In other business,
the RDC voted unanimously to have a financial analyst with Cender & Company
determine the feasibility of adding the Traditions apartment complex to the
town’s TIF district so property taxes from future development there could be
reserved for the RDC’s use.
The RDC talked
about Traditions at its October meeting but president Greg Miller said it
since was determined that the commission missed the March 1 base-assessment
date to add Traditions this year.
The Cender study
will answer whether it would be beneficial to include Traditions in the TIF
district beginning in 2015. Approximately 10 apartment buildings are built
but a few more buildings and amenities are planned.
member Ralph Ayres of the Duneland School Board was absent Monday but at the
April meeting he asked whether the RDC can earmark an allocation for schools
so they receive a share of the tax money that otherwise would go to Burns
Harbor’s TIF fund.
Last night RDC
attorney Chuck Parkinson said yes, an allocation for educational purposes
can be made.
briefly reviewed the town’s economic-development plan that was adopted in
2000 and amended in 2008; it specifies what uses are eligible for RDC
funding within or adjacent to a designated economic-development area.
Weibl said the
current uses are very broad, but Parkinson said the RDC may want to add a
specific project in the future if a bond issue is planned.
On another matter,
RDC member Jeff Freeze said the process that unfolded when Indiana Flame
sought and won tax abatement in 2013 was a “fiasco” and Burns Harbor needs
to develop a firm policy for companies to follow. Last year the Town Council
handled the matter without any involvement by the RDC although state law
It was agreed
Freeze will work with Parkinson using assistance from the Northwest Indiana
Forum to develop a proposed procedure for abatements. Freeze noted that a
company in Burns Harbor, which he didn’t identify, is considering a project
so a request for tax abatement could be forthcoming.
In the last few
years the RDC has met sporadically because its TIF income was used to pay
off sewer bonds. They’ve now been retired and Miller said the commission has
$111,634 on hand and its anticipated $620,000 available for 2014 all was
appropriated to spend if desired.
With money again,
the RDC plans to meet monthly and it was decided that will be the fourth
Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the town hall.